Chapter

Memento Mori

Jeffrey F. Meyer

in Myths in Stone

Published by University of California Press

Published in print February 2001 | ISBN: 9780520214811
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520921344 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1525/california/9780520214811.003.0008
Memento Mori

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The Lincoln Memorial speaks the wisdom of age, admitting light only from the eastern entry and through the dim ceiling light. The image worshipped here is that of the noble and beloved Abraham Lincoln. The chapter reviews what is taken to be the most important element in the religious dimension of Lincoln's canonization and enshrinement on the National Mall. Lincoln used the language of the Bible with an almost Shakespearean sense of rhythm and vocabulary. The Lincoln Memorial obtained consensus by ignoring the controversies surrounding the meaning of the Civil War. It is simply the most prominent example of what became the standard anodyne for forgetting the pain of the battlefield, the divisive issue of slavery, and the still unsettled issue of racial equality. The Lincoln presented at the memorial in Washington is not, in the end, the historical man but the myth that he has become.

Keywords: Abraham Lincoln; Lincoln Memorial; canonization; Bible; Civil War; racial equality; slavery; Washington; National Mall

Chapter.  11715 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Religious Studies

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